A voxel-based lesion study on facial emotion recognition after penetrating brain injury.
Dal Monte O., Krueger F., Solomon JM., Schintu S., Knutson KM., Strenziok M., Pardini M., Leopold A., Raymont V., Grafman J.
The ability to read emotions in the face of another person is an important social skill that can be impaired in subjects with traumatic brain injury (TBI). To determine the brain regions that modulate facial emotion recognition, we conducted a whole-brain analysis using a well-validated facial emotion recognition task and voxel-based lesion symptom mapping (VLSM) in a large sample of patients with focal penetrating TBIs (pTBIs). Our results revealed that individuals with pTBI performed significantly worse than normal controls in recognizing unpleasant emotions. VLSM mapping results showed that impairment in facial emotion recognition was due to damage in a bilateral fronto-temporo-limbic network, including medial prefrontal cortex (PFC), anterior cingulate cortex, left insula and temporal areas. Beside those common areas, damage to the bilateral and anterior regions of PFC led to impairment in recognizing unpleasant emotions, whereas bilateral posterior PFC and left temporal areas led to impairment in recognizing pleasant emotions. Our findings add empirical evidence that the ability to read pleasant and unpleasant emotions in other people's faces is a complex process involving not only a common network that includes bilateral fronto-temporo-limbic lobes, but also other regions depending on emotional valence.